A Gibbons timeline (and a few undisputed facts)

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on January 29th, 2014 at 11:56 AM

I'm creating this because it seems that people are missing some of the important facts that folks dug up and posted in the front page thread on this subject.  (Mods, no hard feelings if you take this down.)  I've done my best not to interject any opinion into what is below.  My purpose in posting this is merely to try to have everyone on the same page as far as facts and timing.

2009 and earlier:  OSCR investigates sexual assaults for U of M but only does so if the complaintant cooperates.  They find someone guilty of sexual assault only if a "clear and convincing" burden of proof has been met. 

Late Nov. 2009:  The incident occurs.  Police reports are made.  Gibbons, of course, denies any wrong-doing...Not long after, Taylor Lewan allegedly threatens the young woman involved with rape if she presses forward.  I have never been able to determine whether Lewan admitted to making this statement.  Please let me know if you know otherwise...We don't know what happened internally to Lewan and Gibbons, but neither is suspended...EDIT: In fairness to Lewan, myself and others have inferred from a police report that Lewan was alleged to have threatened the young woman, but the police report in question is redacted as far as names (at least in the report available online).

Late 2009-Early 2010:  The young woman decides she does not want to press charges, thereby ending the state's investigation.  What OSCR does at this point is unclear.  

2011:  The federal government, via Title IX, tells universities that they must investigate alleged on-campus sexual assault regardless of the cooperation or lack thereof of the alleged victim.  It also tells schools to use a "preponderance of the evidence"  standard when evaluating guilt.  http://www.michigandaily.com/news/university-adopts-new-sexual-misconduct-policy-0?page=0,0 

Aug. 2011:  U of M institutes an interim policy designed to comply with the new Title IX mandate.  (See the link above.)  It appears that the interim policy complied with the mandate to use the preponderance of the evidence standard and to investigate sexual assault claims regardless of cooperation from the alleged victim, but the university's online explanation of this is, in my opinion, somewhat unclear.  http://studentsexualmisconductpolicy.umich.edu/faqs 

The implementation of the interim policy appears to have led more women to come forward to make complaints, as the number of sexual assault complaints made on campus rose from three in 2010-2011 to 62 in 2011-2012.  http://www.michigandaily.com/news/university-adopts-new-sexual-misconduct-policy-0?page=0,1 

Aug. 8, 2013: The Washtenaw Watchdogs blog brings the Gibbons incident back into the public eye.  

Aug. 19, 2013:  U of M implements its current policy, described by the Daily as the result of a two-year fine-tuning process of the interim policy.  (See all links above.)  The current policy unquestionably calls for investigations of alleged sexual assaults regardless of cooperation from the alleged victim and unquestionably uses the "preponderance of the evidence" standard regarding guilt.

Nov. 20, 2013:  OSCR produces a document telling Gibbons that a preponderance of evidence supports the claim that he committed sexual assault.  http://www.michigandaily.com/sports/former-kicker-brendan-gibbons-expelled-sexual-misconduct 

Nov. 23, 2013:  Gibbons plays against Iowa.

Nov. 30, 2013:  Gibbons does not play in the OSU game, purportedly because he is injured.

Dec. 4, 2013:  Gibbons meets with OSCR to discuss the findings against him. (See last link.)

Dec. 16, 2013:  Coach Hoke states that Gibbons may not play in the bowl game because of an injury.

Dec. 19, 2013:  OSCR produces a letter telling Gibbons that he is expelled.    http://www.michigandaily.com/sports/former-kicker-brendan-gibbons-expelled-sexual-misconduct 

Dec. 23, 2013:  Coach Hoke tells the media that Gibbons will miss the bowl game because of a "family matter."

A final note:  Dave Ablauf, in the Daily article linked above (the last link), states that the AD cannot comment on the academics or university standing of an athlete.  University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald also said in that article that he could not comment because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  One could quibble a bit about what Ablauf and people in the AD can say about Gibbons if they wanted to test the bounds of FERPA, but there is little doubt that U of M's legal people believe exactly what Ablauf said, namely that he could not comment on the relevant issues.  One errs on the side of caution in such circumstances...I point all of this out to say that Coach Hoke was never free to say that Gibbons was no longer at the school (save the unlikely event that Gibbons would have consented to this).  I don't state that as a comment on what he did say. 

EDIT: mackbru seemingly correctly points out that the school can at least arguably say whether someone is enrolled.  See the link below that describes a FERPA exemption for "directory information."  I highly doubt this covers saying that someone was expelled, but I am not a higher ed lawyer.  There may be some big grey areas here, and none of this post should be taken as legal advice (sorry - had to say that). 



Final final note: Credit to Don, Kilgore Trout, and guthrie for digging up much of what I posted above.  Also thanks to those in this thread who have made suggestions.




January 29th, 2014 at 12:35 PM ^

First, we don't know if he lied.  He may have actually been injured.  But that's beside the point.  Even if he did have full knowledge of the situation, I'd argue that it's Hoke's duty to protect Gibbons' reputation until such time as the University's findings are officially official.  Period.  Saying he "violated team rules" when he is simply under investigation by the University is also a lie, and would serve to indict Gibbons in the court of public opion.

As for your second point, I totally disagree.  Keep in mind that, under the new guidelines, the University is required to investigate EVERYTHING, regardless of whether they have the cooperation of the victim.  Unlike with criminal charges, there is no threshold for evidence to proceed.  Any complaint, even by 3rd parties, will warrant an investigation.  Hence, I feel that the accused should be afforded even more confidentiality than a criminal case until formal rulings are handed down.  It's simply too easy for anyone with a grudge to open an investigation.

Under the circumstances, I don't have a huge beef with how Hoke handled this.  He was in a no-win situation that is very easy to second-guess after the fact. 

One thing is for sure... Pandora's box has officially been opened.  Other schools will follow. 


January 29th, 2014 at 4:31 PM ^

The timeline lays out pretty clearly what was, and wasn't known at the time of Hoke's press conference comment. It is not possible to say "well, maybe he didn't know" or "well, maybe the findings weren't official yet" when the comments came on 12/23 and the university officially expelled Gibbons on 12/20. It's pretty cut and dry. 


January 29th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

So if Gibbons was healthy he would have played in the Ohio game?

If he didn't have a "family issue" he would have played in the bowl game?

The answer to both is no. Hoke is good at saying nothing most of the time in press conferences. In this case he should have said little rather than talking about injuries and family issues. Family issues? The kid wasn't even a UM student at that point. It looks bad and ain't the stand up coach I thought he was.

turd ferguson

January 29th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

The arguing about how, exactly, Hoke should have not told us what was happening is silly. You could say it's a "family issue" in the sense that Gibbons needed to get with his family and figure his life out.

Coaches rarely tell the truth in press conferences, and it'd obviously make sense that Hoke would hold back given the legal issues and uncertainty about what had happened.

Chances are that at least one very bad thing happened here (though I don't think we have any idea what it is / they are). The group of you trying to turn this into Penn State part II is being as ridiculous as anyone given the complete lack of evidence of that.


January 29th, 2014 at 3:37 PM ^

But you are assuming that, at that point, Hoke actually knew he had been expelled.  Why would Gibbons even tell him that?  Gibbons couldn't play in the bowl game, anyway, so why wouldn't he just tell Hoke that he couldn't return to Michiugan due to "family reasons?"  

Remember that all of this was done under a cloak opf privacy.  Gibbons may well have felt that he could get away with Hoke never knopwing that he had been expelled.  After all, he was done anyway, and probably wouldn't have returned to school even had he been eligible to take that last semester under scholarship (he had already graduated and wouldn't finish his masters without paying for additional schooling himself).

I find it much more plausible that Gibbons lied to Hoke (for good reason) than that Hoke lied to the public for no good reason.


January 29th, 2014 at 5:24 PM ^

Yes, I'm absolutely assuming Hoke knew about Gibbons well before he made the statement... and I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who believes the AD was not made aware of the situation well before the final ruling.  I'm assuming the athletic dept at the very least knew of the OSCR's Nov 20th finding and that is why he didn't play in the OSU game.  

Look, the AD knew everything about the Gibbons situation in 2009.  No doubt they knew of the Washtenaw Watchdog website releasing police documents regarding the assualt as it was all over the internet.  There was plenty of chatter out there prior to the bowl game that Gibbons was off the team for legal/team rules reasons.  Do you really think that with everything surfacing over the past few months that Hoke believed Gibbons wasn't playing in his final game at Michigan simply because of family issues?  You think he would have taken that explanation from Gibbons at face value with everything swirling?


January 29th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Well sure, "no raping" might technically fall under the rubric of team rules, but I still think it's nearly as misleading.  If I heard a player was unavailable for violation of team rules, I probably wouldn't consider the possibility that he was expelled for rape. 


January 29th, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

I would assume there is a general overarching "do not break university rules" component to what goes on, but one question I have - and perhaps this is a silly direction in which to take it - is if, say, up until around the Iowa game, sitting / suspending Gibbons could have potentially prompted an appeal because he was otherwise in good standing officially at the time? Scouring through the manual provides only the academic eligibility requirements, but also says that the athlete must comply with all applicable requirements of the institution as well. Up until that point when the OSCR said there was enough evidence to expel him basically, this technically could have been the case for Gibbons. I am just trying to think of other things that might have come into play here, however minor. 

EDIT: To reply to Yeoman below, I think "suspend" is what I meant. Inserted it. Sorry about that.


January 29th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

I don't know if there would be any potential ramifications of suspending him but you can always sit a player for any reason whatsoever. Playing time is entirely at the discretion of the coaching staff and they don't need to give reasons to anyone for their decisions.

Wee-Bey Brice

January 29th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Of course that would be against team rules but what he is trying to tell you is that someone, like yourself, would STILL accuse Hoke of misleading if he had said that. Saying a player is guilty of violating team rules gives off the impression that he stayed out past curfew or didn't attend class, not that he raped a young lady. Either way, nothing Hoke could've said save for "Brendan is expelled for sexual assault"  (which he was prohibited from saying) would've been revealing enough for many.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

Are insufferable, you probably don't like Hoke and are an RR supporter. This basis is on the fact you are worried about Hoke's comments and not about a woman raped. Who cares what Hoke said. There are bigger issues bro.

Bando Calrissian

January 29th, 2014 at 12:10 PM ^

It's true, Dave Ablauf is unable to comment directly on the expulsion due to FERPA.

But it's equally true that Dave Ablauf's claim that he had no previous knowledge Gibbons was expelled until the Daily asked him about it is almost certainly a lie. It's an added detail he didn't need to say.

It's just as much a lie as Hoke's injury claims, or the "family issues" nonsense. All he had to say was "violation of team rules." Instead, he used other excuses to keep the beat reporters at bay in the short term, as if this was just another Fort Schembechler "boo boo" obstruction.

For an Athletic Department that seems so intent on "the message" and "the brand," these people seem to be completely tonedeaf about what to say, when to say it, and how to phrase it in order to not only be legally sound, but also to be fundamentally truthful without having to reveal details they aren't allowed to disclose.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:16 PM ^

FWIW, it's possible (and I would not be at all surprised to discover that the Athletic Department checked with a lawyer about this) that even a vague "violation of team rules" could in the end be considered a discussion of his infraction and a violation of his right to privacy.

I don't know that this is the case, but it is possible. If a lawyer said, "You're at risk of violating FERPA if you reveal that his departure from the team is due to disciplinary action," that puts Hoke in a tough spot. 

Just a possibility. 

Bando Calrissian

January 29th, 2014 at 12:24 PM ^

Look at how Michigan State handled the Max Bullough situation. They took immediate action, said exactly what they needed to say, gave exactly the right amount of details they needed to in order to make it known he wasn't going to Pasadena, and it was pretty much the end of the story.

We have Brady Hoke concocting two false excuses, Dave Ablauf likely fibbing about what he did and didn't know, and a pile of police reports that make it look like we let a rapist win games for us for three years while his best friend and chief intimidator blocked for him. 

Which scenario looks like a professional and above-board operation?


January 29th, 2014 at 12:37 PM ^

There's no doubt that Michigan looks bad here. I am simply providing an alternative scenario. I agree that making something up about family issues, which rather than being simple obfuscation is a total falsehood, is silly. I just wonder if they felt obligated to go in that direction.

If Gibbons is off the team, and Hoke says it but refuses to give any reason, people will start sniffing around. Whether this was just a lie to throw them off the trail, i don't know.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:48 PM ^

I think Bando is bang-on.  If Hoke had simply said (as MSU did) "Gibbons is no longer with the team and will not be playing in the Bowl game" I doubt people woudl have any issue with his statement and he would not be violating any of Gibbon's privacy rights.

It's the ""family issues" objuscation that bothers the hell out me.  And please dont try and use semantics to twist that statement into something it's not.

Ron Utah

January 29th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

Hoke can say that.  There would obviously be a follow-up question, and it would obviously lead to a media investigation of why Gibbons was booted from the team.  It's not like the reporters would just say, "Cool, Bro."

This could be violating Gibbon's privacy rights, if not in letter, then certainly in spirit.

I really don't have a problem with the family issues thing.  If Hoke lied about the injury to cover-up the investigation, that's a different story.

STW P. Brabbs

January 29th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

To be fair,  Bullough's situation was a much more straightforward situation, where a kid fucked up and was suspended by the team.  In Gibbons' case, he didn't play because of an investigation into an incident from 2009.

Gibbons has been expelled by the university. Bullough had to miss the Rose Bowl, but isn't facing any discipline from the university itself, so far as I know.  The two situations are really not analogous.

Bando Calrissian

January 29th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

They are analogous if you think Michigan should have probably done something about this in 2009. Or 2010. Or 2011. Or 2012. Or even before the last week of the season in 2013.

Michigan State was on top of the situation with Bullough. Michigan hasn't been with Gibbons. Or Lewan. We celebrated those guys, even while the police reports were out there.


January 29th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

We should keep in mind that 1) Gibbons may have faced internal discipline under RR (it's hard to tell because he was redshirting anyway) and 2) had been playing for a year by the time Hoke arrived.  It's not that common for a new coach to decide to change the punishments (or lack thereof) levied by the previous coach.  As far as we can tell, the case against him (whether legal or U-M-related) seemed to have been dropped by then.  Should a guy who was once accused of a crime but never charged be punished by his coach?  I don't know.





STW P. Brabbs

January 29th, 2014 at 1:49 PM ^

I agree with you that Gibbons should have been at the very least handed a yearlong suspension in 2009. 

But I think it's somewhat unfair to suggest that Hoke should have come in, re-opened an investigation into an incident that did not occur during his tenure as coach, and then disciplined Gibbons following his own investigation.  I would go so far as to say that no coach in the country would have done so.

Which makes the case distinct from Bullough's. It's misguided to suggest that, once the ball was dropped in 2009,  the coaching staff was responsible for taking any action until the new developments of 2013.

Also, it sure seems to me that Bullough's been shielded from the legal system much more effectively than Gibbons ever was.  And, important as the Rose Bowl was for MSU football players, expulsion is still a more severe punishment.  MSU sure did a better job from a PR perspective, though, admittedly.


January 29th, 2014 at 1:51 PM ^

In terms of "done something about this in 2009" etc. I don't think you really absorbed the initial post. By all accounts any investigation into the issue was closed in 2009/10, and if changes had not been made to the investigation policy, namely the lower burden of proof and requirement to proceed even without the alleged victim, nothing would have been done at all. I think it's a valid question to ask why the investigation was opened/reopened when it was, or why it was reopened at all, but barring that answer it's tough to ascribe nefarious motives here.

Unless you think we ought to expel guys based on the worst allegations of a dropped police report? If that's the case there are a lot more guys on this team and others that should be gone.

I'm just uncomfortable making any strong moral judgement here without knowing what Hoke knew, when he knew it, and what he was told he was allowed to say. FWIW, it seems like "Gibbons is injured" was indeed a factual statement for OSU (he was at the game on crutches / in a boot), and based on the timeline in the OP the punishment was not finalized at that point. So you're left with the "family values" statement in December. I just don't see the value of a cover-up there, and it's not as though Hoke hasn't had to come out and say "he's not with the team" or "he's suspended" for various legal issues in the past (Stonum, Clark, Hagerup). It's possible he did lie to avoid a shitstorm but Hoke's previous behavior leaves me with enough doubt to hold off till I know more.


January 29th, 2014 at 1:21 PM ^

They said it was for a violation of team rules. If it was a team rule it was easy. It wouldn't involve attorneys and legal issues to take disciplinary action. To the best of my knowledge their has been no release of information regarding what happened. Yes they did suspend him and he missed the bowl game just as Gibbons did but I haven't seen any details.

I Like Burgers

January 29th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

If that's the case, then the company line should have just been "Gibbons is no longer on the team for reasons we are not able to discuss at this time."

As someone else said, the entire Michigan AD is tone deaf about what to say.  They either need to fire their current PR people or hire someone new because they are failing badly when it comes to dealing with the media.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

certainly when the alternative is to make up a reason. 

Assuming Hoke couldn't (or didn't think he could) say he was dismissed from school or the like--for legal(ish) reasons--then his better options would have been a strict "No Comment" or he isn't playing for internal reasons.  Now I agree that would have only begged further questions and inquiry by the press, but that wouldn't be Hoke's responsibility--or it shouldn't have been--and presumably the press would have then moved upm the food chain.

Look.  The University and the Athletic Department knew there would be questions about Gibbons not playing.  They should have had a game plan---specific language--for Hoke to say.  If they didn't, then that is on them.  If they did and this was it, then that too is on them.  Hoke simply should not have been the spokesperson on the issue for many reasons.

Edit: Wow, I type slowly!


January 29th, 2014 at 12:37 PM ^

that in this specific situation it's splitting hairs to distinguish "family issues" from "no comment" or "violation of team rules". Point is, it's a nebulous statement that simply means we're not telling you why Gibbons was held out. That was its sole purpose.

Though saying "family issues" was the least truthful of the three, for sure. But it's not like Hoke was great with words anyway in pressers.

I do somewhat agree with your last paragraph. "The brand" has been held waaaay too closely to the vest since DB has been here. But I will say that probably the major reason for that is the local media's overzealous response to anything and everything that RR said when he was here. If THAT's the way local press is going to treat what a coach and players say, then maybe it's best to say next to nothing. Essentially the Bill Belichik method of protecting "the brand".


January 29th, 2014 at 12:11 PM ^

Nice job.  I could have sworn I saw Gibbons on the sideline on crutches during the OSU game.  Does anyone remember seeing that?  I didn't watch the game a second time.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:15 PM ^

characterization of Gibbons's absence as owing to family problem. I share that annoyance--it's a mischaracterization and tends to elicit sympathy when some more sterile characterization would have done. But this remains a fairly small thing, and might have been what Hoke was instructed to do. 

The bigger issue for me is that the UM won games with Gibbons and Lewan on board. What did the U know and when did it know it? Was the so-called Carr Standard employed, in which strong evidence of at least some wrong-doing would result in a player being removed from the squad, at least until such time as culpability was determined? 

I see a real possibility that although this is ugly, the U and Hoke acted within the letter, even correctly. The timeline suggests that the decision by the young woman not to press charges may have got Gibbons back on the squad. (Hoke might have screamed at him, etc. We know nothing about the internal workings.) The new Title IX demands--which I personally approve of*--caused the U to re-examine, and Gibbons was booted from school. (You have to assume the evidence is strong enough for this, or the U exposes itself to a lawsuit.) Gibbons is, de facto, no longer a member of the team. 

The team, then, could have acted not only within the letter of regs but decently in the circumstance. The question that remains is who knew what and when did they know it. If Lewan and Gibbons played when there was strong evidence of wrong-doing, that's crap but perhaps not fire-able crap. 

The U and Brandon have likely covered their asses here, technically and legally. We'll see to what degree the underlying moral issues--how they were considered or handled--are ever revealed. 

*I approve because so many women--and men--who are raped or assaulted are afraid to come forth, let alone press charges. If 3 in 100 rapes is prosecuted you can only imagine what the figure is for assault. 

I Like Burgers

January 29th, 2014 at 12:32 PM ^

There's no way he doesn't know.  Plently of the people on the internet and elsewhere knew about this.  I don't see any scenario in which over the course of his time at Michigan that no one told Hoke "Hey, BTW...your kicker may have been involved with some type of sexual assualt before you got here, but nothing came of it.  Just wanted to let you know."



January 29th, 2014 at 12:43 PM ^

The issue was did Hoke know that OSCR was re-reviewing the case in 2013 to expel Gibbons? Obviously Hoke knew about the incident, and I'm sure he talked to Gibbons several times about it. But the case probably looked to be closed to them when he was hired. Who knows if Hoke knew of the new OSCR rules and that Gibbons was being reviewed again. Looking at the timeline, it is plausible but not yet provable that he knew before the OSU game. But before that point....he likely had no idea that Gibbons was under any investigation at all.